Straddling the South Saskatchewan River, the Canadian city of Saskatoon is often referred to as the Paris of the Prairies, thanks to its seven bridges. Ranking in the top five sunniest cities in Canada, with over 2200 hours of sunshine per year, there is plenty of opportunity to explore its surrounding sand dunes, grasslands, and boreal forest under sun-filled skies. 

One of the best ways to take advantage of the abundance of sunshine in Saskatoon is by visiting one of the city’s 198 parks. Those that enjoy outdoor activities will be able to hike, walk, jog or cycle one of its many premier trails, some only a short drive from the city. Whether a beginner, more advanced, or someone simply looking for sightseeing, there are plenty of hiking trails near Saskatoon that will offer enjoyable experiences surrounded by a diverse landscape.

Explore Up To 80 Kilometers of The Meewasin Valley Trail

Winding 80 kilometers along either side of the South Saskatchewan River is the Meewasin Valley Trail. Visitors can walk, run, bike, or even rollerblade the trail, which passes through beautiful parks in Saskatoon and even the downtown area. 20 kilometers of the Meewasin Valley Trail makes up a portion of the much larger Trans Canada Trail, which is set to become a 22,000 kilometer, cross-country trail, connecting both coasts of the country. 

The natural diversity displayed within Saskatoon’s city limits is sure to amaze those traveling along this trail. If visiting for the first time, consider birdwatching at the Cosmopolitan Park lookout or encounteringvarious butterfly species at the Saskatoon Natural Grasslands. 

Distance from Saskatoon: Within the city of Saskatoon 

Immerse Yourself in History With a Visit to Wanuskewin Heritage Park 

A site deeply entrenched in Indigenous history, Wanuskewin Heritage Park combines scenic Saskatoon trails with stories of the past. Visitors can explore well-maintained trails that cover more than 6 kilometers of the Opimihaw Creek Valley. Along the way, they may just come across ancient arrowheads, pottery fragments, animal bones, stone tools, and tipi rings, all items that have been discovered here in the past. While you may be keeping your eyes peeled for the next historic finding, be sure to also take in the scenic views of the Saskatchewan River and other panoramic lookouts. 

Once you’ve trekked through its trails, explored its archaeological digs, and stood atop the buffalo jump sites, its time to stop by the on-site Interpretive Center. A must-visit at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, it is here where visitors can learn more about the stories and lifestyles of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northern Plains, who have gathered in the area for more than 6000 years. Shop from a selection of items crafted by local artists and even indulge in Indigenous cuisine while inside. 

Distance from Saskatoon: Within the city of Saskatoon 

Take a Day Trip to The Beaver Creek Conservation Area

Located approximately twenty kilometers south of Saskatoon’s downtown core, the Beaver Creek Conservation Area is a protected natural reserve that feels much further from city life than it is. Once you arrive, it won’t be long before feelings of tranquility settle in thanks to an abundance of wildflowers and wildlife like grassland birds, deer, and other small mammals including at-risk species. Make the most of the fresh air and natural landscape by turning your visit into a half or full-day experience by exploring more than one trail in its network. 

The trails at the Beaver Creek Conservation Area are included one network, with an ideal starting point being the Living Sky Trail. This part of the network is a 3.2 kilometer stretch that is considered an easy hike to complete. As you explore the trail network from here, be sure to stop and admire the spectacular overhead views of the South Saskatchewan River and Beaver Creek. Though the winters can become quite cold and snow-filled, the Beaver Creek Conservation Area remains a hub of activity with the ability to cross country ski along groomed trails. The water on the Beaver Creek also freezes over in the winter months, allowing visitors to walk along the ice for an exhilarating feeling and picturesque scenes. Known to be unstable, visitors should avoid walking along the ice on the Saskatchewan River. 

Distance from Saskatoon: Approximately 20 kilometers 

Check out Sand Dunes and Unique Vegetation along The Cacti Trail

Situated on the shores of Lake Diefenbaker is Douglas Provincial Park. When looking for provincial parks near Saskatoon, there is likely none that can replicate its vast and diverse natural landscape. Behind its unique natural characteristics is an interesting story about its development. The park itself was created after the damming of the Qu’Appelle and South Saskatchewan Rivers by the Gardiner Dam in the 1960s. This changed the two rivers into one large lake that now stretches 220 kilometers. 

Visitors should plan to spend a day or more exploring the grounds at Douglas Provincial Park. Perhaps the most unique aspects of this site are the different types of cactus, accessible sand dunes, and endangered species you may encounter along the journey. There are two trail systems to choose from here, the Trans Canada Trail and the Dunes Nature Centre Trails. The first leads you north to Danielson Provincial Park, while the latter takes you to an active dune site. Whether you decide to hike one or both, visitors will experience well-maintained trails with little to no elevation, making them great for beginners as well. The Cacti trail is of special mention as it opens to a unique landscape of sand dunes covered in vegetation. Beginning at the Dunes Nature Centre, visitors can walk the 5‑kilometer round-trip Cacti Trail (or 6.5 kilometer longer loop), which reveals panoramic views of the sands. 

Distance from Saskatoon: Approximately 145 kilometers 

Keen to experience more of Saskatchewan? Plan to stay a little longer and visit these other remarkable attractions across the province. 

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn, Saskatoon, SK for their suggestions. 

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